Casin dei Nobili reputedly gets its name from the fact that the gentry used to disport themselves upstairs with ladies of doubtful virtue. Whether true or not, this is certainly a popular restaurant now – now only with students who come for the good range of pizze (€5-€8.50) but with diners of all types: booking is essential.
The decor is cosy: simple brick spiced up with all sorts of paintings and bric-a-brac, and the main room has a retractable roof for a semblance of open-air dining when warm enough.
The menu is interesting, with daily specials. I tried lasagne morbido di asparagi e gorgonzola (€8) – a deliciously light and delicate combination. Carpaccio di tonno e spada (€10) was sliced so fine you could have read through it, and came with excellent spicy wild rocket.
There’s a choice of five or six secondi, again with specials. Sanascette di vitello con cicoria (€10) turned out to be a meltingly tender veal stew in a very rich sauce. (Sanascette was our new menu word of the trip – you can never find them in the dictionary but it’s always fun taking pot luck.) Tagliata croccante di manzo al balsamico e sesame (€13) was good; the beef was beautifully tender, but I was amazed to discover it is possible to have too much balsamic vinegar. The sauce would have been better tempered with more meat juices.
The dolci are also interesting here (€5). Lots of chocolate options, crepes and souffles, but I chose a semifreddo alle amarene e croccantino. I’d forgotten that amarene are bitter cherries – I had unthinkingly assumed I would get something with almonds in – but it was a great choice, the bitter-sweet mixture really something to remember. Now I need to go back to sample the millefoglie, or the carpaccio di ananas con semifreddo…
House wine is in bottles rather than litres. The white is chardonnay, the red a very soft merlot (€10). Service is cheeful and efficient and altogether this a place that warrants regular visits.